HEREFORDIAN Chris Rhodes has qualified to represent Great Britain at the next two annual ITU Triathlon World Cham-pionships in New Zealand and Madeira.

The 23-year-old will be competing at Queenstown, New Zealand, in December and then at the championships at Madeira in May next year.

The Madeira-based competition has been brought forward from later in the year to prevent a clash with the Olympic Games at Athens in August 2004.

Rhodes is highly ranked in the amateur, 20 to 24-years age section in Britain and competes over the Olympic distances of 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and the 10km run.

Originally from Hereford, the former Aylestone School pupil is a keen swimmer and represented Herefordshire in his youth before taking up triathlon about three years ago. Rhodes, who now lives in Kendal, Cumbria, competed in eight races last season, posting his best time of 2hrs 7mins in Shropshire which enabled him to qualify for this year's World Championships.

He then finished in third spot for his age group and 19th overall at the Salford World Cup, which booked his place at next year's World Championships.

The Westmorland Triathlon Club member said: "I cannot wait for the World Champion-ships and, because it is my first qualification, I will be trying to finish in the top 10 for my age group.

"It will definitely be a learning experience which should prepare me for the next championships in Madeira."

l Pictured, Chris Rhodes in triathlon cycling action.